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President's Message on SOHO's 40th Anniversary

Save Our Heritage Organisation's 40th Anniversary is a milestone that underscores SOHO's importance to the preservation community of San Diego. A film is being produced to document both the beginnings of SOHO and to chronicle the progress SOHO has made in those four decades to become the primary advocate of historic preservation in the San Diego region.

Many San Diegans rely on SOHO to monitor the city and county activities and assist the appropriate public agencies in forming preservation policy. Whether SOHO is protecting a historic roadway, an entire district of warehouse buildings, an individual historic building, or an iconic fountain, the task is broad and the number of threatened or endangered sites at any given time is numerous. A county the size of San Diego has a constant flow of activity, which often impacts historic resources.

Curtis V. Drake, President 2008 - 2009. Photo by Sandé Lollis

For forty years SOHO has endeavored to work with individual owners, developers, building officials, architects, community groups, and government officials to protect or mitigate the impacts to historic resources. At times, litigation has been a necessary and successful tool when all other avenues have been expended to alert owners that preservation is important and the community has a stake in their actions. Other positive tools, such as promoting and protecting the use of the Mills Act, have provided economic incentives for the care and protection of our historic homes.

Today, SOHO membership has grown greatly and is a potent force in the planning community. The challenges ahead will transcend local decisions and will involve federal and statewide mandates that are intended to curb urban sprawl and protect the environment. Some of these mandates also have the potential to unfavorably change community character. Protection of the environment and providing sustainable architecture are noble endeavors and they emphasize the need for preservation to be relevant in ways never before anticipated. SOHO will need to be vigilant to help shape these evolving forces to work together for the good of preservation of the historic built environment and cultural landscapes.

The general purposes for which SOHO was formed included the leasing, acquisition, and restoration of historic structures exemplifying different types of architectural styles found in San Diego. SOHO has worked many years to protect and advocate for a wide variety of historic resources both private and public and has successfully operated the Whaley House museum and complex for the county, the Adobe Chapel museum and community venue site for the city, and a retail museum shop. We expect to be operating other historic sites in the future as well and hope that you will get involved as we move into the next decade.

2009 - Volume 40, Issue 1

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